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Engineering is truly a noble profession, without it life would not exist as we know it. These 10 engineers are remarkable in the sense that they did not have any blueprints or guides to go by, but they set out to accomplish what had never been done before. All they had was their genius and passion for bettering humanity with their creations. Without them, we probably would not have had the many things we now take for granted.
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10. Alan Turing
Every time you use a computer, it is in part because Alan Turing made significant contributions to make computing possible. Alan Turing developed the binary architecture now used in all computers, as well as much of the theory behind computers.
He is regarded by some as the father of computer science. He is also credited with breaking the German Enigma code during WWII, which made victory possible. In the years following the war he made numerous contributions in software creation. Time magazine named him as one of the most important people of the 20th century.
9. Nicolaus Otto
Nicolaus Otto was a German inventor credited with developing the four-stroke or Otto-cycle engine which sparked the development of the motor care. His Otto-cycle engine worked in four steps; drawing in fuel and air, compressing the mixture, igniting it and expelling the exhaust. This Otto-cycle is still used in the internal combustion engines that run all of our cars today.
Despite having developed the engine, it was Otto’s peers such as Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz who made practical applications of the technology, forever changing how people move all over the world.
8. Nikola Tesla
Every electrical engineer should have a picture of Nikola tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Maybe not a tattoo but at least have a picture of him hanging in their office. Tesla’s inventions make him arguably the greatest electrical engineer of all time. His inventions include fluorescent lighting, the Tesla coil, the induction motor, and 3-phase electricity. He developed the AC-current generation system comprised of a motor and a transformer.
Tesla moved to America in 1884 to work with Thomas Edison, another remarkable engineer. Within weeks of working for Edison, he indicated that he could improve the efficiency of the company’s generators by 25%. Edison promised Tesla a $50,000 bonus if he achieved this feat. Within weeks Tesla delivered on his promise – and Edison reneged on his, telling young Tesla, “You don’t understand our American humor.”
It was Archimedes who came up with the simple yet clever idea of determining an object’s volume by measuring the amount of water displaced by the object. Other inventions credited to him include the catapult, levers and pulleys, and the Archimedean Screw, a device used to raise water for irrigation or mining.
According to some legends he was instrumental in defending his native Syracuse from Romans by his clever use of machines to keep enemies at siege. He also calculated an approximation for pi and developed many mathematical insights without which modern engineering would be impossible.
Eureka! – I have found it!
Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.
6. James Watt
James Watt was an enthusiastic inventor whose improvement of the steam engine sparked the Industrial Revolution. During the 1760s he devoted most of his time to improving the efficiency of steam engines. The result was a machine that become very popular that Watt is sometimes mischaracterized as the inventor of the steam engine. Watt’s many mechanical advances earned him several patents, and his engines were used for coal mining, textile manufacturing, transportation and a host of other industrial uses.
The watt unit of power is named after James Watt. He is credited for measuring the power of his steam engine: his test with a strong horse resulted in his determination that a “horsepower” was 550 foot-pounds per second. Subsequent calculation by Watt resulted in one horsepower equaling 746 watts.
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